Martin Kaymer birdies 17th and 18th to clinch Alfred Dunhill Links ChampionshipAndrew Magee
Germany’s Martin Kaymer produced a stunning final round of 66 on the Old Course at St Andrews to complete a fantastic week of golf and clinch his first Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
The 25 year old did not shoot a single round in the seventies and eventually claimed the title with a score of 17 under, three shots clear of Englishman Danny Willett.
Kaymer had started the day trailing by two shots to overnight leader John Parry, though the Englishman went into the final day’s play with a host of stellar names hunting him down.
Joining Kaymer on 11 under at the start of round four was Spaniard Alvaro Quiros, with Ryder Cup hero Lee Westwood further back at eight under. Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Thomas Bjorn were also lurking with intent.
But it was Kaymer who set the early pace on a bitterly cold and blustery day on the Fife coast. After birdying the first, he went on to record further birdies at the 5th and 6th holes before suffering a blip on the 7th where he made bogey. Parry began with a bogey but two additional birdies on the front nine saw him still very much in contention.
With the weather failing to clear up, Parry began to struggle on the back nine. Despite a birdie at the twelfth, he bogeyed eleven and thirteen and compounded a miserable few holes with a double bogey at the par five 14th.
As Parry faltered, Kaymer continued to blitz the course and soon found himself 15 under with three to play. Though he looked to have the tournament wrapped up, the best was yet to come for the German.
After hitting a wayward second shot on the 17th, Kaymer snaked in a monster putt to draw the roars of the crowd before heading up the infamous 18th. His drive managed to land right in the middle of Granny Clark’s Wynd, but such is the German’s form at the minute that even tarmac is not a hazard.
After assessing the situation, he casually stepped up and lofted his ball away from the road and landed it within four feet of the hole. The shot of a champion. He duly sunk the putt to claim his fourth tour victory of the year following success at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, US PGA Championship and KLM Open.
After his round, a delighted Kaymer was revelling in the unique success of claiming a tournament victory on the Old Course.
He said, “It was always one of my dreams to win at St Andrews. I can still remember my first day here as an amateur and walking down the 1st hole, over the bridge, all those things. It was very special for me to win here today. Three in a row, well three-and-a-half if you include the Ryder Cup – it wasn’t just my own win – is pretty good. I was never expecting that I could win three tournaments in a row, so I don’t really have an answer for why I am playing so well at the moment.”
Elsewhere, despite suffering a recurrence of his calf injury on the first day of the tournament, Lee Westwood finished at seven under par, a score that was not quite enough to see him claim the number one spot in the world. However, despite his injury, Westwood was upbeat about his chances of ending Tiger Woods’ five year reign at the top.
He said, “I was obviously not at my best physically, and woke up this morning and it was hurting more than the other days. So all in all, I don’t suppose seven under par is too bad. I’ll take where I am in the world rankings. I’ve had a great year up until getting injured.”
While Westwood was able to string together some decent rounds, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy came unstuck on the Old Course. Following a two over round of 74 on the Friday, he followed it up with a round of 75 on Sunday which included a nightmare nine on the 14th.
Graeme McDowell had a more relaxed week after his Ryder Cup heroics and enjoyed playing alongside his father Kenny but was only able to finish at six under par.
The celebrity amateurs also made their mark at the annual celebration of links golf.
Perennial crowd favourites such as Hugh Grant and Tim Henman returned and certainly made an impression on their professional playing partners. Playing alongside Grant, last year’s champion Simon Dyson revealed just how much he enjoyed the round. He said, “Playing with Hugh today was great. He’s absolutely hilarious with some of the stuff he comes out with. Playing with Nick Dougherty and Tim Henman too, it was very enjoyable.“
BBC Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans was making his debut in the tournament and was paired up alongside England’s Chris Wood. Evans certainly made the most of the week and enjoyed the crowds at Kingsbarns, despite falling over in a bunker.
Italian footballer Gianfranco Zola returned for his second tournament and enjoyed playing alongside his compatriots the Molinari brothers. He said, “I really had a fantastic time. The golf was good and the company was even better so I had a really good time.”
Elsewhere from the world of football, Dunhill regular Jamie Redknapp was delighted to be back out on the links. He said, “It was lovely. It was a beautiful day and that’s why you can’t get angry if you play badly. You’re out here for a bit of fun and you just want to enjoy it.”
It was a superb week of golf made extra special by the week that was the Ryder Cup. However, despite all the pre-tournament talk being about one of Britain’s Ryder Cup heroes claiming victory here, it was in fact the German member of the team who came out on top. Kaymer’s victory means he is the first player to win four tournaments in a season since Tiger Woods in 2006, and he has now cemented his place at the head of The Race to Dubai.
For a full list of individual scores and a tournament leaderboard, go to http://www.alfreddunhilllinks.com and click on the Live Scoring link at the bottom of the page.